Stem Cell Research in Bipolar Disorder

Colony of stem cells derived from an individual with bipolar disorder

We are establishing inducible pluripotent stem cells (iPS) from individuals with bipolar disorder.

The bipolar research team recently launched a project entitled the Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology of Mood Disorders. The goal of this study is to establish stem cell lines from skin cells taken from individuals with bipolar disorder and study details of molecular mechanisms.

Using the very latest laboratory techniques, researchers will isolate certain skin cells (fibroblasts) from a skin biopsy sample and manipulate, or “induce” the cells to make them behave and function like neurons in the brain. These cells will be grown in test tubes to study details of how the genetic material (DNA) may be affected by factors such as the presence of medication, which could influence the functioning of the neuronal cells. Integration of the extensive clinical and physiological data from study participants along with the emerging cellular data from the stem cell research is highly likely to assist in determining why some individuals respond to specific interventions, or why stressors result in variable outcomes.

“We are very excited about studying cellular mechanisms; this technology brings us to the essence of the biology of nerve cells from people with bipolar disorder,” said Melvin McInnis, M.D., the Prechter Program's research director.

The stem cell research study is not currently recruiting new volunteers.

Stem cell research is a rapidly advancing research field. As the National Institute of Health (NIH) website states: “Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth. In addition, in many tissues they serve as a sort of internal repair system, dividing essentially without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive.” Further information about stem cell research can be found here.

This study has received approval from IRBMED: HUM00043228